Earth Island Institute

ECO: The environmental voice at the IWC

ECO is published by Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission on behalf of environmental and animal welfare organizations around the globe.

For further information, please contact: Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director, Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project.

Previous volumes of ECO are available here.


Volume LXIII · Isle of Jersey, United Kingdom · No. 4 · Thursday July 14, 2011

Acrobat .pdf of issue No. 4

A Type of Corruption

What do the Fukushima nuclear disaster and scientific whaling have in common? Both are in part consequences of the continuously revolving-door between corporations, government and the Diet (Parliament) in Japan. The earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 was the work of God or Nature, according to one’s theological inclinations, but its appalling effects on people and Nature from the breakdown of the nuclear plants was largely the fault of humans. Such things should not be built by the sea in a known earthquake zone in the first place. And as the IAEA report and others on the “accident” demonstrate, the operating company was utterly incompetent and unprepared to deal with the…
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U.S. Responds to ECO

Hello ECO, the US Delegation read with great interest the article “Why Do They Hate US?” However, with all due respect, we believe there are several reasons you may have overlooked. As such, we humbly submit the following other reasons: Because we believe our Jersey shore is better than the shore of Jersey. Because we like Reggae music since we can dance to it. (ECO Editor’s Note: Yeah, we can’t figure out this one either…) Because we will fight for speaking rights for observers even when they use those rights to tell us we can’t dance. Because of the strikingly good looks of the members of the US delegation (thanks Doug!). Because…
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Come Back for Big Blue?

One of the saddest legacies of the intense period of whaling following the second World War, was the almost complete annihilation of the blue whale in the southern hemisphere. Many scientists believed the species was doomed to extinction; many thought with so few whales left in so vast an ocean, that the individuals would not be able to find mates. We now know that the voices of the blue whales can travel immense distances underwater. It may be due to this fact that the few survivors were able to continue the species. Photo identification of individual blue whales is now being carried out by researchers in Australia, Chile, and other southern countries,…
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Whale Meat Case in Los Angeles

A famous Japanese sushi bar in Santa Monica, California, has been shut down, and the owner has pled guilty to illegally importing and serving sushi made from sei whale meat. Learning of the availability of the meat, two female activists went into the restaurant and ordered a large dinner for $600, finally urging the chefs to provide them with whale meat. They filmed the entire sequence, with help from Charles Hambleton, associate producer of The Cove documentary. They also smuggled out samples of the meat for DNA analysis. Ginichi Ohira pleaded guilty last month to importing the illegal whale meat from Japan; sentencing is expected in September. Also charged was the chef…
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Arctic Oil Drilling Threatens Vulnerable Whales

As the IWC continues to study the effects of oil on whales, Greenpeace is demanding an immediate ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The vulnerable Arctic ecosystem is already under unprecedented threat from climate change resulting from the burning of fossil fuels with receding ice threatening ice dependent species such as the narwhal and bowhead whale. Now, as the oil industry encroaches ever further into the Arctic, these same species face further threats including those resulting from oil spills. A new briefing published by Greenpeace, “Black on White: the Threat of Arctic Oil to Whales,” summarizes the threats and flags up some of the latest relevant scientific information.…
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An Act of Mercy for a Dolphin in Japan

The incredible tsunami that swept over Japan’s northern coast in March stranded a baby dolphin in a rice paddy more than a mile from the coast. Mr. Ryo Taira, a pet shop owner who had been going about trying to save pets in the tsunami zone, heard from a person who saw the dolphin stranded. Mr. Taira went to the paddy and managed to catch the dolphin with the help of friends and wrap it in wet towels. They then brought the dolphin to the ocean and released it. Mr. Taira told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper: “I don’t know if it will live, but it’s certainly a lot better than dying in…
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Device to Allow Talking with Dolphins?

The Georgia Institute of Technology, in conjunction with Dr. Denise Herzing’s long-term wild dolphin research, has developed a device that can translate dolphin sounds to English and English to dolphin sounds. With the device, which includes an underwater keyboard (apparently for divers, not for dolphins) and two hydrophones, works to translate dolphin sounds into words like “seaweed” and “bow wave ride.” Eventually, the device should decode more words in “dolphinese.” The device is now being tested in the Bahamas. ECO recommends that the IWC, which only recently began allowing representatives of NGO groups to address the full Commission in Plenary sessions, to consider opening up the microphones to dolphins and whales. Assuming,…
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Thanks, DJ!

ECO takes this opportunity to again thank DJ Schubert of the Animal Welfare Institute, based in Washington DC, for his efforts in herding environmental and animal welfare NGOs at this year’s IWC meeting. DJ has been open and helpful to all requests, and there are many, and in sorting out all the difficult decisions that have to be made. And thanks also to all the NGOs who made last night’s NGO reception such a success. A hearty round of applause for all!